Mind your manners: Connie Britton and Salma Hayek in Beatriz at Dinner
By sheer coincidence, a Mexican immigrant nurse/caregiver of modest means gets invited to dine with a pack of rich white people in a seaside mansion. That’s the setup for Miguel Arteta and Mike White’s Beatriz at Dinner, a singularly appropriate drama of manners for the new Gilded Age. It’s a situation as deliciously dangerous as dynamite, handled with a combination of velvet gloves and cold steel.
The title character, played by Salma Hayek with minimal makeup and a serious demeanor, is a calm, interiorized woman who provides massage and various healing therapies at a Los Angeles cancer center. She lives alone except for her pet dogs and goats, whom she adores. To make ends meet, she also visits patients in their homes. It is at the palatial house of longtime client Cathy (Connie Britton), in a gated community in Newport Beach, that Beatriz’s car breaks down – whereupon Cathy invites Beatriz to join her and her husband Grant (David Warshofsky), who are hosting a couple of their business friends and their wives.
That seemingly innocent get-together turns out to be a contender for the Awful Dinner Party Hall of Fame. While a team of servants prepares the meal, the men, including the aptly cast John Lithgow as a heavy hitter real estate developer and Jay Duplass as his toady, guffaw…
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